Monday, June 30, 2008

Reporting Cardigan Progress

I finally figured out how to work our 'old' camera so I could show you my beautiful cardigan sleeves. They are dark chocolate 100% alpaca - and so soft and wonderfully cozy. I have passed the cuffs and am now well into the cables ~ row 56 or so. The pattern is the Central Park Hoodie, from Interweave Press. Since it has finally cooled off outside, I'm going back outside to knit! Check out the strawberry "tower" garden behind the sleeves on our back deck ~ part of my wonderful view while I knit! (more later!)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Knitting Magic

My first pair of socks were not magical - they were a challenge. They were frustrating. They looked goofy and they didn't fit. They were top down with some sort of wrapped (or warped?) short row heel and I thought that was the end of my sock knitting career. However, sock yarn is so beautiful that I knew I couldn't give up on socks. So I took a class on toe up socks, on 2 circulars - ahhhh, much better experience. We learned a great Turkish cast on and an afterthought heel. These socks turned out better, but still had many "design features" that might have been lace if they were consistently placed.... I wasn't going to give up, so I started researching patterns. I stumbled on a magical book in my local library: Queen Kahuna's Crazy Toes and Heels This book has pictures for those of us that have to see exactly which stitch goes where (and how) in a Make 1. Exactly where the stitches and yarn are supposed to be for the heel turn - each step of the way - the book has so many colored pictures of each step, so there is no guess work - no getting lost - no getting confused. I have used the Queen's method for all my socks (no wrap & turns either!) and then use a fun pattern for the cuff. I bought the book and still use it, step by step, for the toe increases and the heel turns. If you have any frustration with knitting socks, I recommend you check out this book!

The first pair had a wonderful fit as soon as I turned the heel - and no "design feature" holes in the Make 1 increases after the toe cast on. They were fun to knit and no frustration - all was predictible, just like the pictures.

The pattern I chose for the cuff had to be magical as well, and they turned out to be a favorite pair of socks, as they opened the door to continued magical sock knitting! (have you tried this one - Harry Potter Horcrux socks can you see the zig-zag scar in the lace pattern?) These are knit out of Fiesta yarn -great fun!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bitten by the Jitterbug

I'm sure you have a favorite yarn - one you can't resist. A Yarn that calls to you in every color, one that is so soft and smooth, with the perfect twist on the needles - glowing with those colors you can't resist. Jitterbug is that yarn for me. I saw my first skeins of Jitterbug in Sisters Oregon, at the most amazing quilt shop called The Stitchin Post. The shop always has a wonderful array of fabrics and quilts on display and had recently started carrying yarn. What a wonderful surprise to have amazing fabric AND yarn in one shop! There was a basket with about 8 skeins of Jitterbug - the colors were so rich and each skein glowed with a perfect mix of colors. I bought the popsicle color with greens and yellows that day, deciding not to buy all three colors mixes in the basket. I dreamt about the purples that night, so had to go back and get the purples the next day - thankfully there was a skein of purples left, as all the other colors were gone, as it was the BIG quilt show weekend and most of their yarn (and a lot of fabric) was sold out! Note to self: If you see a skein of Jitterbug, buy it immediatly as it might not be there when you return.

I couldn't wait to cast on Jitterbug socks with the popsicle greens, yellows and turquoise. I knew they would be such a great project, a mystery of how the colors would stripe or pool or float or twist. The next weekend when our family went camping, I cast on the Jitterbug socks. I cast on this perfect yarn in one of my all time favorite knitting places. Yes, at the river - early in the morning. A glorious morning at the river, camping with my family and knitting Jitterbug socks. Life is really good....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Favorite Places to Knit

Do you have a favorite place to knit? Perhaps it isn't the place that makes it "favorite" but it is who you are with? I've just been knitting out on my back deck, and had to come inside now that the sun is sinking behind the trees. Outside is a great place for knitting, as the breeze is gentle and smells like fresh cut lawn, and our cat is right here for company. Here is one of the views as I knit on my back deck. Not what you expected?

The clothes line is new, part of our 20 year wedding anniversary and part of our 2008 Earth Day resolution. I love the clothes line. If you look closely, you can see my Race for the Cure running shirt is the first item on the line, and there are a pair of flamingoes just under it. A wonderful view, indeed.

Another very favorite place to knit is here, in the river. If you ever have the chance to knit in a river, I highly recommend it - I keep my sock yarn in a ziplock bag, and have my measuring tape & markers on a lanyard around my neck.

The humming sound of the river, the wonderful fresh smell of the water, and the refreshing feeling of having my feet in the river - and feeling the yarn and seeing the colors in the sunshine - perfect lighting - perfect location - perfect activity. Sharing this with my daughter is perfect too!

More (knitting) later, as I finished the ribbing on the cuffs and have done the first cables for the cardigan sleeves! (More on our annual Earth Day resolutions, there's a story.....)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another New Year's Resolution

I started my cardigan this week. I have 4 glorious inches of ribbed cuffs for the sleeves already and the yarn is living up to its name "Decadence" (by KnitPicks) Sorry to tell you that this yarn was discontinued last year, as was their marvelous "Panache" (the cashmere blend). Sorry (again) to tell you there there are no more skeins of Decadence or Panache available from KnitPicks..... as I bought it all (on closeout) when I heard it was being discontinued - yes, I had a panic attack (with no regrets - not even one).

Anyway, the 4 glorious inches are chocolate brown (dark chocolate, not milk chocolate) and 100% alpaca - and soft, oh so soft..... my strategy is to knit until the sleeves get too warm on my lap, and then switch to the body - and when that gets to be too hot for this season of knitting, I'll switch to something else... and when the first cold snap of fall occurs ~ VOILA ~ I have an 85% completed alpaca cardigan!!! Pretty clever summer knitting, eh?

What about the New Year's Resolution? When I ordered (all) the Panache & Decadence last September, the 'deal' for me was that I'd start the cardigan in 2008.... however there were also some other pieces of that deal --- the toughest piece was that I also had to Finish (yes, capital "F" on Finish) my Fair Isle cardigan from Philosopher's Wool. Have you seen their sweaters - oh dear, they use colors in an amazing way, and Ann & Eugene are marvelous - please check them out and check out David Reidy's podcast interview (Show 65).

Here we are on Easter Sunday, counting our blessings and very proud of the first public outing of my Fair Isle - Aren't we all lovely!!! More (yarn and New Year's Resolutions) later.....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Perfect Day

Today fits into the category of Perfect Day. Including a visit to a yarn store I'd not been to in several years (I bought my first Tank Top pattern there, when I'd only been knitting scarves -so it is a place of great inspiration and encouragement) and then we traveled to a wonderful yarn store that we had never visited. Lots of glorious yarns and patterns, and lots of inspirations. Two coffee shops in between the yarn shops and non-stop stories between my knitterly friend & I. We find out later we missed Jenny of Stash & Burn (Episose 56) by mere minutes! We ended up with our monthly Yarn Yoga group and knit happily on our projects - enjoying show & tell and ripping some projects and actually doing a bit of yoga as we untangled a mess of many colors! I am so lucky to have such great friends and the time for knitting!
More (yarn) later.....

Friday, June 20, 2008

First day of Summer and First Blog

Why not celebrate the first day of summer by trying something new? Why not have a new learning experience and share stories of things that I love? here is a blog to celebrate summer and all that I love about it - and the love of knitting that goes through all the seasons!

This will be a short post so I can do some knitting tonight on my Tofutsies socks.... more (yarn) later....